Europe of Peoples an Nations: Solidarity and Common Projects.

Masters Speech

at the 8. International Symposium of Europa-Lodges. Firenze 08.-10. Mai 2015.

My dear Brethren,

before I turn to the subject of our Symposium, I first would love to express my great joy about the fact, that I am about to speak to you as the (Worshipful) Master of a lodge, which this year for the first time was invited to join this venerable group of European lodges. And as the (Worshipful) Master of a lodge, which deliberately bears the name „Europa“. I am even more because we are the first German Masonic Lodge, which bears this name which in my opinion is deeply Masonic.

Maybe by being the first German Lodge to join you, we do complete the basic idea of this International Symposium of Europe Lodges a bit more. At the end of my speech I will come back to the history of my lodge and the peculiarities and the current situation of Freemasonry in Germany.

The topic of our Conference is highly up-to-date: „Europe – and the question of solidarity between Peoples and Nations.“

Although the concrete idea of a politically united Europe, more precisely the idea of Pan-Europa, was born nearly 100 years ago, this question remains to be discussed in many places and different political fields. And it is a heated and controverse discussion. The Question about solidarity in Europe still has not been resolved.

Che Guevara, who is said to have been a freemason, once said that: „Solidarity is the tenderness between nations.“

So how tender are we today in Europe?

  • Is There a limit of tenderness, of solidarity, between the members of the EURO zone, and maybe especially between Germany and the heavily indebted Greece?
  • How do we define terderness and solidarity in Europe in the case of those many refugees, that, if not war, hunger, or the Mediterranean Sea killed them, arrive in Italy?
  • How strong is the solidarity in Europe on which the Baltic States want to rely, living in constant fear of their big neighbour Russia?
  • Actually how do we define solidarity with Central European States which are not member of the European Union? What does solidarity in Europe mean in the case of the Ukraine?

For good reasons, and for centuries Freemasons never discussed religious or such day-to-day political issues within their lodges. And so do I.  I will not discuss  these current issues and questions of solidarity in Europe at this point.

But, even while Freemasons in their lodges do not to argue about politics, Freemasonry is but politically. Many brothers were and still are even particularly politically active members of their Society – on the basis of their Masonic values.

And last but not least, the political idea, the political conception of a United Europe  goes back on Freemasons.

I would like to answer the question of solidarity in Europe today by starting to look for the answers of those brothers, who designed, thought and faught for unification of Europe about 70 or 100 years ago. In dark times.

In the year 2000 in Nice the European Council adopted the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was drawn up by the first European Convention headed by Roman Herzog. For the first time in the history of the European Union, the Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together all civil, political, economic and social rights of all European citizens and all persons living in the European Union in a single text. It is valid for us all.

According to the wording of the preamble of the Charter the European Union is based on „its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice.“

In the following text of the Charter, the Fundamental Rights are divided into six major chapters: 1) human dignity, 2) freedoms, 3) equality, 4) solidarity, 5) civil rights, 6) judicial rights.

Liberty – Equality – Solidarity. Not Fraternity.

The headings of the European Fundamental Rights – they use and define solidarity. They don’t use the word fraternity. Where did that came from?

On September 03, 1921 Richard Count Coudenhove-Kalergi submitted his application on becoming a Freemason to the Loge „Humanitas“ in Vienna, one of the oldest Masonic Lodges of in Austria. At this time Coudenhove-Kalergi was 26 years old.

In his application, he wrote: „I confess myself to the European Union, and, in the narrower sense, to the German cultural community: but not in terms of any kind of nationalism (…) For these reasons, I can feel myself only as a cosmopolitan, with the widest tolerance for strangers and the foreign, without the least national and social prejudices. My circle of friends extends to all social spheres and professions. – I would love to join a Federation, which is as international and cosmopolitan as myself and where the ideas of international reconciliation and brotherhood of nations lie in its tendency.“

In 1923, Coudenhove-Kalergi first published the „Pan-European Manifest“. He therefore became the founder of the Pan-European Movement and the first visionary of a politically, economically and militarily United Europe. The sign of the Pan-European movement is the Sun-Cross: a red cross on a golden circle. Coudenhove wrote: „In the sign of the Sun-Cross, which combines the Sun of enlightenment with the Red Cross of the international humanity – the Pan-European idea will triumph over all restrictions and inhumanities of chauvinistic policy of destruction. In this sign, to which already today the best Europeans profess, the new Europe will grow.“

the sign of the Sun-Cross, which combines the Sun of enlightenment with the Red Cross of the international humanity

1930, in ever more critical growing times, Coudenhove-Kalergi published the so-called Pan-European Pact, the next step and a concretization of the Pan-European Manifest, which in fact already comes with the form and content of  draft for a European Constitution. In the preamble of this text, our Brother Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote:

The principles on which this draft is based, are as follows:

  • to leave the full sovereignty of every European State unaffected;
  • to almost exclude a war between European Nations;
  • to make any attack on a European States hopeless;
  • to allow the European disarmament;
  • to wake up a feeling of European solidarity;
  • to establish the relations between European States on justice not on violence;
  • to secure the equality of all European peoples and nations.

Already in the first fundamental publications, the first concrete efforts to build Pan-Europa a central topic in addition to peace in Europe is that of humanity and solidarity. And the way to peace, economic prosperity and solidarity leads over the establishment of relations between Nations and peoples on justice.

One of was Europe’s most respected statesmen, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aristide Briand, 1927 became Honorary President of the Pan-European Movement.

On September 5, 1929 at the urgent request of Coudenhove Kalergi, Briand proposed in his speech in front of the League of Nations in Geneva the creation of a Federation of European Nations. Aristide Briand was a Freemason too. He was initiated in the lodge „Le Trait d‘ Union de Saint Nazaire“. Later in Paris, he joined the lodge „Le Chavalier you travail“.

Some Months later in the year 1930, Aristide Briand brought up a „Memorandum on the establishment of a European Union“ to the discussion. This was the first attempt ever by an incumbent politician to reach for a European Unification on the political level.

Briand had taken over the task: „to consider a kind of Federal Relationship among the Nations of Europe that locks them together in ongoing solidarity and would allow them, whenever it would be necessary to get in direct connection with each other for to study, to discuss or to regulate the issues that they might have with each other.“

Ongoing solidarity.

In 1938 Coudenhove-Kalergi had to flee from the Nazis from Austria to Switzerland and in 1940 to the United States of America. His great hope on the political horizon in these days was the Great Britain of Winston Churchill. As you know Winston Churchill was initiated to Freemasonry in 1901 in London in  „United Studholme lodge no. 1591“. He was raised to a master mason in 1902 in „Rosemary lodge No. 2851 „.

Portrait of Winston Churchill — Image by © CORBIS

One of the most important speeches on the Unification of Europe was of course by Winston Spencer Churchill, held shortly after the World War II on 19.09.1946 in Zürich (Switzerland):

And what is the plight to which Europe has been reduced? Some of the smaller States have indeed made a good recovery, but over wide areas a vast quivering mass of tormented, hungry, care-worn and bewildered human beings gape at the ruins of their cities and their homes, and scan the dark horizons for the approach of some new peril, tyranny or terror.

Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as if by a miracle transform the whole scene, and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and as happy as Switzerland is today. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to recreate the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe.“

My dear brethren, I can hardly imagine more solidarity and even fraternity, as it is expressed in these statements by Br. Winston Churchill.

To reach out to each other after the Great seminal Catastrophe of the 20th century and to speak of a „European family“ at that point – I wish we had the same fundamental confidence in Europe and the people who live on this continent today.

Freemasonry in Germany after the end of the second world war was devasted. Shortly after the election of Hitler as Reich Chancellor the lodges in Germany were closed, the lodge houses sold under pressure or expropriated, the brothers pursued.
And that all although the German Grand Lodges in their vast majority heavily were völkisch, were conservative and rather sow the seeds for the Nazi movement than to oppose.

Furthermore there was the historical diversity of German Freemasonry. Before the second world war, there were 9 regular and 2 irregular Grand Lodges on German ground, which all had grown on the background of the historical development of Germany, which not until 1871 was constituted to the German Empire. Until then each German country, each Principality had developed a unique tradition of Freemasonry.
Now, after the great war, all these German Masonic traditions and the surviving Brethren met disorganized. Persecuted and defamed brothers met those brothers who were followers or perpetrators under the National Socialist Regime. Brothers who belonged to a regular Freemasonry before WW2 met brothers who came from irregular German Grand Lodges.

En miniature the idea of a „family“ – just a Masonic family also emerged in the German Freemasonry at that time. The idea of a Unification.

On this fundament the Grand Lodge the „United Grand Lodges of Germany“ emerged – as a worldwide recognised Grand Lodge unifiying all German traditions. Today five Grand Lodges belong to this Masonic House in Germany. In German lodges today the brothers can experience almost 20 different rituals.

But one of the most important rituals in the international masonic history, in Germany so far was not processed: the symbolic degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft , Master) of the Scottish Rite. The lodge Europa, no. 1051, is working with this ritual as the first Lodge at all in Germany and completes the German landscape of Freemasonry. The lodge consciously builds a bridge to internationalism, diversity and understanding — a bridge to Europe.

Even more as we ar a lodge under the jurisdiction of the American Canadian Grand Lodge in Germany. A Grand Lodge which was founded by Brethren from abroad who came to Germany during and after the Second World War. The ACGL of course to day i spart of the United Grand Lodges of Germany (VGLvD).

The motto of the United Grand Lodges of Germany, which combines all German Masonic traditions, is: „E pluribus Unum“ – freely translated as „Unity in diversity“.

Solidarity, as it is witnessed by the example of the German Masonic history, can be achieved by setting a framework. By restriction. By rules.

This, my brothers, is but probably also the difference to fraternity. Fraternity comes without.

APPENDIX: Grand Lodges in Germany before the Second World War:

1.Große National-Mutterloge „Zu den drei Weltkugeln“, Berlin (3WK) ca. 21.300 Mitglieder, 23 Innere Oriente, 95 Schottenlogen, 182 Johannislogen, 61 Kränzchen ( P.: 24.06.1740, N.: Nationaler Christlicher Orden „Friedrich der Große “ am 27.04.1933, + 15.07.1935)

2. Großloge „zur Sonne“, Bayreuth (GLzS) ca 3.800 Mitglieder, 41 Logen, 20 Kränzchen (l.:12.01.1741,+ 18.04.1933)

3. Große Landesloge der Freimaurer von Deutschland, Berlin (GLLvD) ca 20.370 Mitglieder, 4 Provinzial-Großlogen, 19 Kapitel, 54 Andreaslogen, 180 Johannislogen, 59 Kränzchen ( G.: 24.06.1770, N.: Deutsch-Christlicher Orden am 30.01.1933, + 15.07.1935)

4. Große Mutterloge des Eklektischen Freimaurerbundes, Frankfurt/M (GMLEB) ca 3.000 Mitglieder, 26 Logen, 5 Kränzchen (I.: 1.03.1788, + 20.03.1933)

5. Große Loge von Preußen, genannt „Zur Freundschaft“, Berlin (GLvP) ca. 10.970 Mitglieder, 1 Provincial-Großloge, 23 Innere Oriente, 107 Johannislogen, 17 Kränzchen ( L: 11.06.1798, N.: Deutsch-Christliche Orden „Zur Freundschaft“, + 16.07.1935)

6. Große Loge von Hamburg, Hamburg (GLvH) Ca. 5.000 Mitglieder, 54 Logen, 9Kränzchen (I.: 4.02.1811, r.: 30.07.1935)

7. Große Landesloge von Sachsen, Dresden (GLvS) ca. 6.920 Mitglieder, 45 Logen, 37 Kränzchen (I.: 28.09.1811, N.: Deutsch-Christlicher Orden von Sachsen 27.04.1933, + 15.07.1935)

8. Große Freimaurerloge „Zur Eintracht“, Darmstadt (GLzE) 890 Mitglieder, 10 Logen, 2 Kränzchen (I.: 22.03.1846,+ 15.07.1935)

9. Großloge „Deutsche Bruderkette“, Leipzig (GLDBK) ca. 1.851 Mitglieder, 10 Logen, 5 Kränzchen ( G.: 16.11.1904, N.: Deutsch-Christlicher Orden 30.01.1933, + 20.07.1935)

Irregular Grand Lodges

10. Freimaurerbund zur aufgehenden Sonne, Nürnberg, ab 1925 Hamburg (F.z.a.S.) ca. 1.400 Mitglieder, 44 Logen ( G.: 1905, I.: 27.07.1907 Ffm, + Frühjahr 1933, danach Exil in Prag

11. Symbolische Großloge von Deutschland, Hamburg (SGL) ca. 1000 Mitglieder, 29 Logen, davon 2 in Palästina (I.: 27.07.1930, r.: 27.03.1933, danach Exil in Palästina